February 1, 2005 | Issue 18

Rabbi Proposes Belting for Belting Tunes

article pic YEHUPITS, MINNESOTA — [TheKnish.com] The Chumradika Rav has laid down the law on amateur Hebrew operatics in the shower: you may not sing.

"You will not sing in Hebrew in the shower," the Rav instructed a listener inquiring about Talmudic laws on an Ultra-Orthodox religious radio program. The Rav explained that the Hebrew language, holy to the Jewish religion, was not to be sullied by use in a bathroom, Wednesday's edition of Idiot Lehitraot newspaper reported.

The Rav, considered a religious authority in Ultra-Orthodox Judaism, went on to elaborate. "To hum without a word in Hebrew crossing your mind is acceptable," he said. "Unless it could lead to dancing," he quickly added. "Furthermore, this psak only addresses solo performances. Chas v'shalom that there should be a duet or, hevel havolim, one without kol isha." He also recommended that prisoners, to whom shower alertness is often sakanos nefoshos, refrain from even humming.

Scientists say that the hard tiles used in shower stalls make for an acoustic environment that makes any voice sound better. They postulate that this explains the universal propensity to sing while soaping up. Other, less accepted, theories cite nudity's aiding in achieving falsetto and the fact that no one is around to make snide comments about your Jimmy Buffet impression.

Following his stifling radio pronouncement, angry calls began pouring in, some of them with audible water running in the background. One caller asked what to do if there's no toilet paper and you only know Hebrew. Another told of a "study" about the habits of those who shower, and particularly those who don't sing. The Chumradika Rav was forced to go to commercial.

When he was back on the air, the Chumradika Rav claimed he was really looking out for his followers' welfare, since, "It's brought down that drowning is a real danger." He also announced that singing songs in English was forbidden as well, as a geder against singing in Hebrew. However, certain English songs would be allowed on a case by case basis. So far, the only songs the Rav allows are "Tush" by ZZ Top, because he supports the Canadian Hasidic sect, and "Hell's Bells" by AC/DC for similar, but opposite, reasons.

Not everyone was against the ruling. Feivel Shrinksteen, a well-known Talmudic scholar who went to yeshiva with the Chumradika Rav, was all for it. "The heilegeh Rav knows what he's doing. I remember back in our dorm when he used to sing Dancing Queen by Tatty, or Abba or some shmutzigeh thing. Let me tell you, that should be ossur."


Pencil Mordy Ovits did standup once. They laughed at him. They all laughed at him. You can email your laughter to him at movits@theknish.com.

Pencil Martin Bodek is short, dark, handsome, runs marathons (finishes them too!), can solve a Rubik's Cube in 1:47, is a big TED chasid, can whup your keister in Scrabble, loves halva, co-founded TheKnish.com, and writes books from 5-9: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/mbodekatgmaildotcom


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